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Bonaire’s Regatta Enters Fourth Decade

Bonaire’s 41st Regatta October 5 to 11 was a week long festival filled with sun, sails, wind reversals, lively festivities—and some serious racing by189 participants registered in the classes from yachts and catamarans to local wooden fishing boats and Optimists. Countries represented in this year’s regatta included the USA, Netherland Antilles, Aruba, Venezuela, Netherlands and Great Britain.  

The fleet included two traditional wooden Bonaire fishing boats. These represent the original crafts used in the first Regatta between Capt. Don Stewart and Ibo Domacasse 41 years ago. The junior sailor Optimist class was an endearing group to watch, and seeing the youth in sailing is an optimistic and positive element to any event.

One of the crowd and press favorites was Alert, an all female crewed Wooden Classic 48 racing in the cruising class. The 15 women were a lively crew full of spirit and camaraderie and a sight to behold on this stunning boat.  The multi national fleet added to the mood and character of this year’s regatta.

The largest fleet was the 111 micro boats. These amazing little vessels filled the harbour with color and excitement. Some were decorated with logos bearing the names of Hooters and Seagram’s lending a fun and festive element to a spectator-filled event. 

The 41st Regatta was sanctioned this year by the Caribbean Sailing Association. Regatta organizers felt it was a step in the right direction for a racing event. D- Trip’s (NM 1417) captain, Sergey Boer from Curacao, is no stranger to the Caribbean racing scene and the CSA’s rules, having raced at Heineken Regatta and in the BVIs.  Asked for his impressions on the Bonaire’s new sanctioning, he expressed that it created a fair element to racing and felt positive towards the changes. D-Trip went on to win in the Yachting Class.

The winds were light until Wednesday when Mother Nature sent a wind reversal. Kralendijk harbour, typically calm, was a washing machine of frothy mess, making for perfect freestyle windsurf conditions. The onshore wind and chop were ideal for the windsurf rock stars who took to the water to compete. Fortunately it was lay day for the cruisers and racers so they could enjoy the freestyle show.

Each night culture and music prevailed at Wilhelmina Park. Event organizers dazzled the crowd with musical acts from Venezuela, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. The dancing and food extravaganza went into the wee hours of the morning. On the closing night the island was treated to a stellar fireworks display lighting up the night making a perfect farewell to another successful regatta.

On land and sea, the competitors shared fun, laughter and race strategy.  For complete results and a variety of stories from this year’s event, see www.bonaireregatta.org

Ann Phelan, owner of Caribbean Wind & Sun Vacations, specializes in Caribbean dive and windsurf vacations.

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